Aim to Entertain

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    Regardless of financial status, we all enjoy getting together with family and friends. However, when money is a little tight, you don’t have to opt out of hostessing if you utilize some sensible alternatives.

    Your first task should be to decide the theme for your event. This will help you to create your guest list as well as help you see what pre-party elements you can bypass and what areas you will want to make extra special.

    For a large party, consider cutting corners by cutting back your guest list. You could save a ton of cash that could be used for more practical purchases by narrowing your list by just 10 or 15 individuals. For more innovative themes that will feed – and please – a large crowd? Click here to get five great themes provided by the Food Network.

    For most of us we simply want to entertain a few friends. Be sure to supply a comfortable amount of room for your guests. If yours is a dinner party, you will want to ensure you have enough chairs for your entire guest list. If it is a cocktail party you can and should opt for “milling”; room rather than so many chairs.

    Another consideration is where you have your event. This can also either be costly or not. Here is a list of some inexpensive alternatives.

    1. Your own home or backyard
    2. Your local church Fellowship Hall
    3. A local residential clubhouse
    4. A local business or entertainment complex, i.e. skating rink, bowling alley
    5. Park or picnic area
    6. The beach or lakeside
    7. Your family or friend’s home

    The latter suggestion I offer with the thought of further spreading the expense by hosting a Progressive Dinner. These types of parties can be most memorable and fun.

    Just what is a Progressive Dinner? Simply put, each course of a meal is prepared and presented by a different diner. My recommendation here is to plan carefully the route to minimize driving distance.

    The next issue you need to decide is whether to give out invitations or not. Although a phone call is often less costly than a printed invitation you may want to consider sending them to at least some of your invitees. The more formal your event the more likely this should be done. Some ideas to consider that can help cut down on the expense here are:

    • Computer generated invitations
    • Printed
    • E-mailed
    • Online greeting cards
    • + Online digital greeting cards
      + invitations

    • Hand crafted cards
    • Quilled
    • Stamped
    • Embossed, or otherwise embellished
    • Calligraphy


    Hand crafting your invitations can be fun and will provide a unique invitation that may be cherished by the recipient for many years to come. You can even have a group of close friends or family members assist you with the invitation’s design and creation. Think about the laughs and memories you will be making at the same time.

    Here are a few more tips, provided by the Food Network, for hosting the perfect soiree:

    • For an informal party, keep things simple. Purchase snacks like chips, salsa, nuts, cold cuts, bread and prepared salads.
    • Before you go shopping, clean out your fridge to make room for all those prepared foods and make-ahead dishes.
    • They're your friends; feed them right. Incorporate healthy dishes based on fruits, vegetables and grains.
    • If you are serving buffet-style, then you'll want to plan a little crowd-control — spread things out on small platters with the sides and meat pre-sliced.
    • There's no need to foot the bill for the wine as well as the food. Make it a BYOB and ask your guests to bring wine, beer or soda.
    • Make well-placed and clearly marked areas for trash.
    • Have plenty of ice on hand.
    • Set and dress your table before your guests arrive.
    • Get creative: use water glasses for crudités, breadsticks and even flowers.
    • Wrap utensils (either plastic or silver) in napkins and place them in a basket for your guests to easily grab and hold.
    • Keep plastic bags and containers handy to pack leftovers for your guests and yourself.